We have a purpose, as a family, now - to live a peaceful, joyous life where every being is honored, loved, trusted and respected...but most of all accepted, as is, whether adult man, woman, boy, girl, dog, cat, kitten...
And I have a personal purpose, beyond that. It can be summed up by a few lines from the Paul Simon song, "Wartime Prayers":
"I'm trying to tap into some wisdom, even a little drop will do.
I want to rid my heart of envy, and cleanse my soul of rage
Before I'm through."
What that means, for me, is being who I am, who I was meant to be, without fear, or shame, or feeling as though I don't deserve to be exactly as I am, living the life I am living. It means remembering the voice I'd lost touch with over the course of years, renewing my own passions, sharing them. And accepting the responses, whether glowing or furious, as beyond my control. It means attending to myself most especially in tense moments, of not losing sight of that purpose when someone or something wants to thwart, ridicule, discredit, or tell me I am lying, that I cannot possibly be as happy or at peace as I "claim", and life cannot be as good here as we say it is.
The rush is that I have reached an epiphany. It seems simple, and it is true for all of us...
We get to choose how to be in this world.
I get to choose how to be. In each and every moment. None of us can choose or predict all the variables in our lives, but we can and must, if we are to have any measure of peace, take responsibility for our own choices.
So often, in the everyday world, I hear people bemoaning the circumstances of their lives as though they had utterly no say in the matter. A marriage ends, and someone feels they were done wrong. They stop there, at that point where blame is placed, and put the lion's share on the other party. But blame helps nothing and no one. It leads to wars, resentment, bitterness, anger, envy, hatred....and does nothing to acknowledge that, as Spock said, "there are always possibilities."
Each moment is a choice. We can move through our days, months, years, and lives without ever really understanding this. Or we can live mindfully, knowing that in each moment, the choice we make will affect the next moment, and the next, in outward-spreading ripples.
If a marriage ends, it likely does because of many, many choices made by both parties. A choice to say a harsh word, or no word, rather than a kind one. A choice to focus on what wasn't done rather than what was. A choice to try to control, or resist passively, or to just go one's own way regardless of the consequence. A choice to move away from each other rather than toward. A choice to become so focused on material things, or success, or image, or to do lists, that the heart and soul of the marriage is lost.
It's the same for other things, too. Most parents just assume they will send their kids off to school "when the time comes". They really don't see a choice, or, if they do, they reject it. They do what most others are doing (and, in American culture, the age at which children are being enrolled in a school program and separated from their parents for hours at a time is getting younger and younger. I know children who have started programs at 2 years old, and many more who start at 3). I've read the accounts of these children crying at being left, and the helplessness of the parents who feel they and the child "have no choice" but to get through it.
But school is a choice. It is not natural, for mammals, nor is the separation it requires. No other mammal sends its young out into the world before they can fend for themselves, or hires surrogates to raise them. So sending the child, and leaving them each day, whether crying or not, are decisions parents make each day they wake, rouse sleeping children before they would naturally awaken, urge them to eat "a good breakfast", "hurry up and get dressed", "no, wear these shoes; those don't match", "hurry so we don't miss the bus", "listen to your teachers, now; it's time for me to go", "no, you can't play outside until your homework is done", "no, we can't do this holiday event because there's a school meeting"...the list, I'm sure, is longer. And I'm sure most parents who send their children off to school never realize that all those moments are choices.
Or that it's the choices we make, more than anything else, that charts the course of our relationships with our children. The choice to put school first, each day, each moment, means that, in each of those moments, the child did not come first. And the children begin to realize this while very very young, and to know that, whatever they think or feel about it, school will come first, for their parents.
We've chosen - we choose, each and every moment, to live a different way. To practice being mindful, even when rage or frustration or fatigue want us to give in, become unconscious and lash out. To practice seeing things through the eyes of our children, and reassess whether, in that light, we are behaving in a way that promotes love, tenderness, affection, and trust - or something else less savory.
As I've mentioned before, this is a very new way of being, for me. It is most emphatically not the way I was raised. My opinion had no impact whatsoever on the choices that were made for me, much of the time.
So the rush is one of realizing a universe of possibilities I had never dreamed existed, when I myself was a child. So many possibilities, it's almost frightening to think of how open and free our life has become, and how much further we can go along that path, if only we remain true to ourselves, our purpose, and each other. As Shakespeare said,
"This above all -
To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."
I choose, each moment, to depart hugely from the way I was raised, the things that were so much a part of my childhood. I choose to accept, for once and for all, that the punishments I received for my childhood transgressions were designed more to help my overwhelmed parents vent the frustration, fury, and helplessness of their own wounded childhoods than to help me learn to make better choices. And I choose to accept that my parents, whom I loved fiercely, were not trustworthy, because they would willfully hurt me with little or sometimes no provocation. I choose to release all anger or bitterness about this. In the (paraphrased) words of Sandra Dodd:
"I have chosen to stop being my mother's child, and instead to be my children's mother."
I choose to focus on that, to be wholly in these relationships that mean the most to me. I choose to like myself, and my place in the world. I choose, too, to love and be gentle with myself, to be a soft place for the little girl I was, and the children I brought into the world. I choose to love Jim, ans honor him deeply as the boy he was, the man he is, the husband, the lover, the father, the friend. I choose to overlook his shortcomings and keep large in my mind the magical moments. I choose to truly live the vows I made to him a little over twelve years ago, to be his lover, companion, and friend. I choose to love and accept these children as they are, in each moment, and not to be waiting for them to be someplace or some way else that suits me better. I choose to give them all the trust, understanding, acceptance and patience that were lacking in my own childhood.
I choose each moment, and I know I am choosing.....and what an amazing rush it is! =)